Armstrong essay provides perspective in summer collection by BC essay writers

Writer Luanne Armstrong is among two dozens BC writers whose essays are included in The Summer Book

BY LORNE ECKERSLEY

Advance Staff

Boswell writer Luanne Armstrong is among two dozen BC writers whose essays are included in The Summer Book, “A treasury of warm tales, timeless memories and meditations on nature by 24 BC writers.”

With 20 books to her credit, Armstrong is among the province’s most accomplished writers. She is joined in The Summer Book by contributors such as Grant Lawrence, Des Kennedy, Briony Penn, Christine Lowther and Anne Cameron.

While my summer reading typically focuses on crime fiction writers like Robert B. Parker and Sue Grafton, this year I have been immersed in Irish writers as I prepare for a fall trip to Ireland.

But when a friend of Armstrong’s dropped off a copy of the The Summer Book, my response was immediate. “This is going to be a good week.”

I read essays by Cameron, Lawrence and Theresa Kishkan, but then I could no longer resist. Summer Break, Armstrong’s contribution, is a beautifully written piece that begins with a description of one of her grandchildren jumping into Kootenay Lake from Redman Point, something she did herself in her youth. Growing up on a farm with a lake providing one of its boundaries is a rare gift, and one that Armstrong has always treasured. It isn’t all endless fun, though.

“But summer always breaks my heart,” she writes in Summer Break. “Summer in Canada is the cruellest season. It makes April into a piker. Summer is really only two or three weeks long. At my lake, on the August long weekend, almost anyone who has anything that will float is in it or on it, floating or roaring around in circles.”

She finds comfort in knowing that the summer season that we Canadians seem pre-ordained to anticipate will end more quickly than we can imagine.

“I still walk to the beach every day and sit in the silence. In September, there are no boats on the lake. The sky is painted a bright and brilliant blue. The mountains are hazed by smoke from wildfires.”

She concludes her essay, not surprisingly, with the welcome thought that the most anticipated of Canadian seasons will come to a welcome end.

“And at night, I will lie down to sleep, sun warmed and sun browned, listening to the odd thud of the last ripe syrupy yellow plums drifting to the ground; listening to bat squeaks as the bat parade races around my house, devouring mosquitoes; listening to the last crickets sawing a tune in the tall grass by the garden. Waiting, again, for winter.

Summer. You rip me apart, you really do.”

The Summer Book is not available locally at this time, but can be found in bookstores elsewhere, or ordered through the publisher at www.mothertonguepublishing.com.